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Run time: 22 min.

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Les MitchelMaya Are People (1951)

something has gone horribly wrong 8-p
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Many explorer-adventurer hosts of historical/cultural films viewed their subjects as "objects" (e.g. C. Ernest Cadle and Carveth Wells), their colonialist attitudes seeping precariously through the safety-film. Not so the wonderful and forgotten Les Mitchel, who arrives in the Lacandon area of the Yucatan, shows the chief Obregon K’in (of Agua Azul village, Palenque) how to fire a pistol, takes him on a plane-ride to view his ancestral ruins at Palenque. Much of this magnificent film was shot at Lacanha Chan Sayab. Viewers can find much to like about this filmmaker-adventurer, lost to history. Overly-sensitive individuals will be put-off, no doubt at Mitchel’s politically-incorrect use of cigarette-as-tool, burning the leave of a jungle plant to show its reflex to heat. At the end of the film, Mitchel delivers a heartfelt plea to save the culture from encroachment. All our attempts at finding any information on the filmmaker have failed.

This movie is part of the collection: Academic Film Archive of North America

Director: Les Mitchel
Producer: Les Mitchel
Production Company: Simmel-Meservey
Sponsor: Castellano Family Foundation
Audio/Visual: sound, color
Keywords: Lacandon; Obregon; Palenque; Les Mitchel

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84.9 MB 
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Average Rating: 3.00 out of 5 stars3.00 out of 5 stars3.00 out of 5 stars

Reviewer: MayaJourney - 1.00 out of 5 stars - October 30, 2012
Subject: What a shame.........
There are many problems with this video. The author says that the locals didn't know about their history. Who interview the Maya-Lacandon? I see them smiling but I don't see them talking. How can they decide what knowledge they had if there was no conversation between them? Who translated? The Ah’Me’en – Chamán – Ajq’ijab’ - Curandero – is the healer, the Maya Physician, that taught us about the plants, trees and animals used to heal. Their knowledge about the jungle was incredible. Also, another thing that is not true is that the author says that the government of Mexico was trying to help them. Until know, there is awareness of the importance of our forefathers.
The video has many things that are not true. Lacandon-Maya knew their history, legends and songs, not like they are portrayed in this video. I was there in the mid 1950’s and came back every year. We had to write and draw everything we heard and never impose our views or talk about religion or politics. This video is an eye-opening about the ridiculous way "civilized' people portrayed them. They knew about the herbs and trees to use as medicine, they had advanced knowledge of the skies, animals, etc.. There are many problems with this video:
- Obregon is not a Maya-Lacandon name as the video shows.
- Giving shot guns as a present?
- Giving milk and peanut butter as a present?
- Another important point is that the majority of the Lacandon-Maya are allergic to milk and mani (peanuts). So I highly doubt that they would take a chance to drink milk or eat the peanut buter that the video shows.
What a shame!
Reviewer: SpinMayaEduardo - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - March 27, 2009
Subject: Amazing Documentary!
I can not believe there are videos about the Maya from the 1950´s, it was amazing to see the way Palenque looked almost 60 years ago. I went to Lacanja in 2003 and it was basically the same from what I saw on this video.


Eduardo G

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